Tuesday began with a ’round the table’ rehearsal of our new contemporary programme ‘Lost Generation’. We were a little distracted by the intermittent downpours and howling wind outside and every now and again we’d see bright sunshine and wonder whether we should dash out and make the most of it. After a successful couple of hours singing, we made it to South Circular Quay in Sydney Harbour and battled the wind and rain to the opera house where many photos were taken.
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We had lunch at the Opera House Kitchen with views over the harbour. The seagulls were particularly ravenous apparently and we soon found ourselves surrounded. Tom nearly lost his burger when he took his eyes off it for a second and had to fight them off with a water jug. After dinner we found ourselves in two groups again, it’s hard to keep 8 people together! We had a quick stop in Guylian for take away hot chocolate then went for a wander around the harbour to the rocks. We soon got rained into a pub – Sydney’s oldest pub in fact, but not the quaint cramped little example you would find in England, this one definitely had a dated 70s feel.
The evening was spent very pleasantly next door at the house of Andrew Sempell, rector of St James’, King Street, and his wife and daughter and two playful little dogs. We have been rather over fed on this tour and the boys were struggling somewhat, having had huge steaks only a couple of hours before. Soon Andrew’s fine collection of whisky was brought out much to everyone’s delight and we all got a bit merry. With our lunchtime concert the next day we eventually called it a night.
The next morning we headed off to our concert venue: St James’, King Street. An unusual but beautiful church, it was originally built as court rooms and has cells in the crypt. Designed by architect and convict Francis Greenway, and built by convict labour, it is the oldest church building in Sydney. Our concert was part of the church’s regular lunchtime concerts with an audience of mostly local office-workers on their lunch break. Our slightly unusual programme of Milhaud, Duruflé, Poulenc and Stravinsky went down well however, with the boys’ Poulenc ‘Quatre Petite Prières de Saint François d’Assise’ opening the concert beautifully.
In the afternoon we were finally treated to some sunshine! We ended up in two groups again; David, Guy, Nancy and I explored the botanic gardens and government house, then took the walk to Mrs Macquarie’s Point to get the best view of the harbour. We spent quite a while trying to find the herbarium, expecting a big glass dome full of exotic plants, only to find it was a research facility full of laboratories not open to the public… a little embarassing! The other group got some spectacular views from the top of Westfield Tower and then visited the Museum of Contemporary Art. Evensong went well, and the congregation were very welcoming and appreciative.
Our thoughts were soon on the special meal we had booked for the evening at Nomad in Surrey Hills but drinks were needed first. Molly fearlessly led the way down a dark murky alley and we stumbled upon a rather swish barbershop come gin and cocktail bar. We made friends with some of our fellow drinkers, Tom was especially taken with the man who invented his snake bite cocktail.
One of the highlights of our visit in Sydney was our meal in Nomad where we ordered the taster menu. Plate after plate of delicious food was brought to the table, the trout and roe pate was a particular favourite. Again we all got a little merry on some very good wine. Speeches and toasts were made and we went to bed on full stomachs and high spirits, a perfect end to our stay in Sydney.